Sunday, April 25, 2010

After 4 years of detention, lawmaker released

Gaza/Bethlehem - Ma'an - Member of the Palestinian Legislative Council with the Hamas bloc Anwar Zboun was released from Israeli prison on Sunday after four years of detention for affiliation with the party.

Zboun's family said they were awaiting Anwar’s release, but said he was obliged to undergo unexplained "release procedures," prior to his return to the West Bank city of Bethlehem.

The PLC member was detained by the Israeli army from his home in Bethlehem on 26 June 2006, days after Gaza militants captured an Israeli soldier who remains captive in the coastal strip. Dozens of other Palestinian lawmakers were similarly abducted following the capture.

Sixteen PLC members remain in Israeli detention centers, two of which, according to the International Campaign for the Release of Palestinain Prisoners, were moved from the Ofer to the Negev detention center last week. The campaign said the removal of Nezar Ramadan and Azzam Salhab was intended to weaken the ongoing prisoners strike.

Military court postpones PLC member's hearing for 70th time

Nablus – Ma'an – An Israeli military court postponed the trial of a member of the Palestinian Legislative Council for the 70th time, deciding to hold the hearing in May.

Jamal Tirawi's hearing at the Salem detention center was held in secret on Sunday, his brother Raed said, and only his lawyer was able to attend.

The Palestinian lawmaker's wife was allowed to watch the hearing for 10 minutes, but was then escorted out of the room, his brother added.

The Israeli military prosecutor had attempted to prove Tirawi guilty of several charges, but reportedly failed to supply the necessary evidence, and asked for an extension.

Abbas contacts prisoner deported to Gaza

Gaza – Ma'an – President Mahmoud Abbas spoke with a former Palestinian prisoner on Saturday who was deported to Gaza by Israeli authorities, after completing his sentence.

Abbas told Ahmad As-Sabah that he would pressure Israel, through Europe and international organizations, to ensure Israel revokes two military orders allowing for the deportation of Palestinians broadly defined as infiltrators.

The Fatah leader further told the deported prisoner that he would guarantee his safe return to his family living in the West Bank city of Tulkarem.

As-Sabbah arrived at the Erez crossing on 21 April 2010, where he has held a sit-in vigil since protesting his deportation.

The de facto government in the coastal enclave refused to admit the 36-year-old Tulkarem native, who was thus stranded at the border area. He has called on international and humanitarian rights organizations to have him returned to the West Bank so he can be with his wife and family.

The deportation followed the approval of new military orders to expel Palestinians living in the West Bank without certain ID cards.

As-Sabbah's family was waiting at the Al-Thahriyah crossing to receive their son after 10 years behind bars, but were surprised when Israeli authorities delivered the news that he had already been deported to Gaza.

Sabbah said the "discriminatory and harsh" decision was intended to further punish detainees and their parents. "There is a real war against detainees," the former prisoner told Ma'an over the phone from Gaza.

Palestinian Legislative Council member Abdul Rahman Zeidan condemned the deportation.

Palestinian woman marks 9th year in Israeli prison

Gaza – Ma'an – A Palestinian woman from the Arabah village in Israel marked her ninth year in Israeli prison on Sunday, the Prisoners High Committee in Gaza announced on Friday.

Lina Jarbouny was detained in 2002 and was sentenced to 17 years in Israeli prison for affiliation to Islamic Jihad. Her brother, Said, said his family hopes she will be released soon in a prisoner swap. from Arabah village inside the green line marks her 9 years at Israeli prisons.

IOF soldiers arrest Palestinian academician while en route to Jordan

[ 25/04/2010 - 11:12 AM ]

NAZARETH, (PIC)-- The Israeli occupation forces (IOF) arrested Dr. Omar Said from Kufr Kina village, north of 1948 occupied Palestine, while on his way to Jordan.
Palestinian sources in 1948 land said that Said was in the company of university lecturer Dr. Mahmoud Mihareb, who was banned from travel, and journalist Suleiman Abu Ersheid.
The Israeli police and Shabak, intelligence, had searched Said's home.
The sources said that the IOF soldiers took Said to Petah Tikwa detention center where he is being interrogated by the intelligence's international crimes unit.
Said was previously arrested and detained and held under house arrest for years because of his political activity in the national movement in 1948 occupied Palestine.
For its part, the Israeli Haaretz newspaper revealed that the Israeli intelligence apparatus Shabak interferes in the appointment of mosque imams in the 1948 occupied lands.

The newspaper said that the Israeli interior ministry use inspectors and agents to gather information about the social, political and family activities of the mosque imams before appointing them according to the recommendations of the Shabak.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Palestinian prisoners begin hunger strike in Israeli jails

1_51Palestine, April 7, 2010 (Pal Telegraph) – Palestinian prisoners in ten Israeli jails began today a hunger strike to protest against Israeli mistreatment.
Israeli jails' authorities have been preventing the families of Palestinian prisoners who are from Gaza Strip from visiting them for four years.
The prisoners are being abused and their families members who are allowed to visit them.
Living conditions are bad in the jails as prisoners are banned from getting books.
Some Palestinian prisoners, including those from Jerusalem, are banned from completing their education and getting family visits.
Raafat Hamdouna, head of the Prisoners Studies Center, said that the hunger strike is the first of its kind in years. The strike should be supported and covered by media and legal bodies, he added.
Palestinian prisoners suffer from daily mistreatment due to the bad medical services, search policies, and the ban of visits.
A total of 11,000 Palestinian prisoners, including women children, sick and injured people are held in Israeli jails. 115 of them have been held in Israeli prisons for more than 20 years,14 of them have been held in Israeli prisons for more than 25 years, and three of them have been held for more than 30 years.

Photo: Mohammed Asad


“On April 17, 2010 we call on activists and community organizations to take local initiatives to educate on the issue of Palestinian prisoners and to join people around the world by organizing local gatherings to  fly kites for the freedom of the Palestinian Political Prisoners.”
April 17, 2010 commemorates the 34th anniversary of Palestinian Political Prisoners Day. As this historic and important day approaches, several Palestinian organizations and solidarity partners feel it is a critical time, now more than ever, to shine a light on the unsung and sometimes forgotten heroes of the ongoing struggle to liberate Palestine.

These freedom fighters have long been the corner stone of the Palestinian liberation struggle and the moral fabric of Palestinian society. It is in fact the very centrality of their role in our struggle, our society, our communities and families that caused these selfless and courageous women, men and children of all ages to be targeted for unjust political persecution, detention and imprisonment by the Zionist occupiers.
To that end, the Free Palestine Alliance, Ansaar Alsajeen, Arab 48 and Addameer invite you to join in launching this crucial and much needed international campaign to once again shine a light on our beloved guardians of Palestine; International Palestinian Political Prisoners Campaign.(IPPPC)
The IPPPC website will be the main resource of the campaign providing resources and comprised of various archives, websites, research projects, direct interviews, and historical data. We hope this website will serve as the most comprehensive information clearing house on Palestinian and Arab Political Prisoners.
The IPPPC website will also serve as a space to share information on activities and act as a communication center connecting organizers.
Please visit to share your studies, articles, information and thoughts on this ongoing campaign and subject matter.
Please join the Free Palestine Alliance (FPA), Ansaar Alsajeen and Arab 48 and Addameer: Prisoners’ Support and Human Rights Association in Palestine, the A.N.S.W.E.R. Coalition and others in calling for freedom for the political prisoners. We call on everyone who stands for the basic human principles of equality, freedom, liberty and justice for Palestine to fly a kite with the name of a Palestinian Political Prisoner on it. Every kite will soar carrying a political prisoner’s name that represents these same principles.
On April 17, 2010 we call on activists and community organizations to take local initiatives to educate on the issue of Palestinian prisoners and to join people around the world by organizing local gatherings to  fly kites for the freedom of the Palestinian Political Prisoners.

For more information visit

The Battle of the 'Empty Intestines'; Palestinian prisoners in Israeli jails stage hunger strike

On Monday hundreds of Palestinian children in the Gaza Strip whose parents are held in Israeli jails staged a candle lit vigil in the courtyard of the Unknown Soldier in Gaza City.
The Battle of the 'Empty Intestines'; Palestinian prisoners in 
Israeli jails stage hunger strikeEXCLUSIVE PICTURES


In the fist initiative of its kind for several years, the anti-Zionist Prisoner's Movement has planned a bold and coherent series of measures against the systematic, pervasive and persistent violation of prisoner rights within Israeli jails. The initiative, which comes from within the prisons themselves, consists of a progression of escalating non-violent 'battles' waged by thousands of prisoners being held in more than 10 Israeli prisons and three detention camps under the most appalling conditions.
Today marks the first of the planned protests which has been called 'the battle of empty intestines'; a hunger strike aimed at securing a list of basic prisoner demands. It comes in response to the ever tightening and repressive practices of the Israeli prison department.

Yesterday evening, the Centre for Prisoner Studies announced that representatives of more than one of the prisons in question had sat down with prisoner representatives to hear their key demands. These include;
  • An end to the humiliating and degrading way in which family visitors are treated, including improper searches.
  • To allow the families of captives from Gaza to visit their loved ones. This also applies to the hundreds of other families of captives from the West Bank, Jerusalem and other occupied regions.
  • To allow access to suitable television channels such as al-Jazeera
  • To allow family to bring in books during visits
  • To allow prisoners to take general secondary school examinations
  • General demands for the observation of prisoners' basic human rights
Not only do these daily practices contravene the official codes of the prison department itself, but the demands being made by prisoners are human rights safeguarded under various international conventions including the Third Geneva Convention, which relates specifically to prisoners, and the United Nations Declaration on Human Rights. Israel's prisons are accused of a policy intentionally designed to inflict maximum levels of humiliation, degradation and insult upon those immediately under their control as well as their families. Daily violations range from the prevention of family visits, unnecessary and inappropriate strip searching, food rationing and the denial of medical treatment to mental and physical torture among other heinous practices.
Indeed, that prisoners from Gaza have been denied visits from their families for the past four years; since the capture of Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit and as a penalty on all Gazans for what Shalitt's family suffers, this amounts to collective punishment, a grave breach of the Fourth Geneva Convention. The Israeli prisons department are notorious for their persistent gross abuses. MEMO, along with a number of human rights bodies and organisation have written on this subject previously but without tangible improvement.
The Palestinian Authority, lead by President Mahmoud Abbas, as a partner in both peace negotiations and security coordination with Israel, has an obligation to prisoners held under such conditions within Israeli prisons. Nevertheless, they have failed to either secure for them conditions of captivity that conform to international standards or their release. On the contrary, the two have operated a 'revolving-door' of detention whereby prisoners released by Israel are immediately re-arrested by the PA and vice versa. In this way certain individuals are kept in continuous incarceration.
Instances of medical neglect, deprivation and severe human rights abuses have sparked the current initiative and there have been several appeals for the plight and efforts of these prisoners, to be publicised and supported. Within the region, Palestinians from all walks of life and regardless of political affiliations have been called upon to stand in support and solidarity with the prisoners' movement. This reflects the decision by the prisoners themselves to stand united in their cause. Indeed, the committee formulated to lead the strike is politically heterogeneous consisting of members of Hamas, Fatah, Islamic Jihad and many other groups. Leaders of the initiative have said that they fully expect prison authorities to crack down on them even further; nevertheless, they have vowed not to back down whatever the cost.
Similarly, this initiative should be supported internationally by all organisations and individuals concerned with the alleviation of suffering and universal human rights. These prisoners have not chosen to strike because they are fans of suffering and pain, but because they have been compelled to their current course of action. And until they can be completely released from the jails that serve Israel's colonial, apartheid regime in occupied Palestine, at the very least, the conditions within them must be brought into conformity with international standards.

PCDD: “340 Children Still Imprisoned By Israel”

Tuesday April 06, 2010 02:20 by Saed Bannoura - IMEMC
The Palestinian Center for Defending the Detainees (PCDD) issued a press release on Monday stating that Israel is holding captive nearly 340 Palestinian children, depriving them of their basic rights and subjecting them to ongoing violations.

The center said that while the Palestinians mark the Palestinian Child day, detained children are still facing abuse and violations, including torture and solitary confinement in dark tiny cells.

The center added that detained children are also placed in small and overcrowded rooms, while Israeli courts are prosecuting them as adults and Israel’s Prison Administration deprives them from their visitation rights.

Israel sent more than 231 children to court, while more than 100 children are awaiting trial. Children are also subject to Administrative Detention without any charges or trial, an issue that violates the International Law and all international child protection agreements.

Similar to detained adults, child detainees are deprived from receiving their basic rights, such as clothing and the right to education.

There are 50 detained children who need essential medical care but are deprived from receiving it, and at least 10 children were given bad food that led to poisoning them, the center added.

The PCDD called on international human rights groups to intervene and ensure the unconditional release of all detained children, and to oblige Israel to respect the International Law.

Israel is holding captive more than 8000 detainees, 1600 of them, are sick, including 16 who have cancer and are not receiving the needed treatment.

550 detainees needs surgeries, 160 suffered heart diseases, kidney diseases and other serious health issues, 18 detainees are paralyzed, 80 have diabetes, two are blind, 40 were shot and wounded before their arrest and after arrest, and 41 are constantly hospitalized at the Al Ramlah prison hospital that lacks the basic medical equipment and supplies.

Israeli guards threaten striking prisoners

Published Tuesday 06/04/2010 (updated) 06/04/2010 17:51
Salfit – Ma'an – Israel's Ramon Prison service threatened to deprive striking Palestinian detainees of family visits in May if the current strike protesting the mistreatment of prisoners and visiting family members continues.

Palestinian prisoners across 13 Israeli detention centers began a boycott of family visits on 1 April, and punctuated the start of the boycott with a day-long hunger strike. Prisoners say some are denied family visits, and at times family members at the prisons are mistreated, actions prisoners want to cease.

A message from detainees in Ramon, delivered by a lawyer with the Palestinian Prisoners Society, said guards at the facility had told prisoners that if the boycott was not halted, privileges at the cantina - the prison shop where Palestinians must purchase items like soap and notebooks - will be revoked and family visits will be prohibited for the month of May.

When he received the letter, the society's lawyer noted Gaza resident Hammad Abu Arra had been sent to solitary confinement, where he spend more than 30 days. "Abu Arra completed his sentence last year," the lawyer added.

Wife and Nine Children of Bil’in Political Prisoner: Life Without Adeeb

Adeeb Abu Rahma at Bil'in Demonstration
Adeeb Abu Rahma, a taxi driver from the West Bank Village of  Bil’in, is known for his  firm committment to nonviolence during the weekly demonstrations against the Wall. At the July 10, 2009 demonstration, he was grabbed by Israeli soldiers  as he walked away from them, his message of resistance on a sign he held.  He has been imprisoned ever since, without trial.   Adeeb is the sole provider for his nine children, wife and mother.
Bil’in Village reports on an interview with Adeeb’s wife, Fatma Abu Rahma:
Fatma Abu Rahma and five of her nine children have gathered in the living room of the family’s prospective son in law. The house is fully equipped, but its sterile immaculateness divulges its lack of inhabitants. Doha, who is nineteen, will move in once she is married, but has been postponing her marriage until the release of her father Adeeb. Fatma’s tiredness, frustration and despair read from her eyes and are confirmed in her muttering speech, calling on Allah to help her family. She repeatedly exclaims that she lacks information on her husband’s current state of being, which cause her grave irritation and concern.
My husband has been away from me and my family for almost nine months. On July 10th 2009 Adeeb attended the weekly demonstration in Bil’in, on this day soldiers grabbed and arrested him. He was officially charged with incitement to violence. The truth is that he is arrested for nothing more than taking part in a popular demonstration against land theft committed by Israel. Adeeb encouraged others to join the protests, while Israel clearly wants to annihilate the popular resistance. He is imprisoned for defending his people’s rights.
I am grief-stricken since Adeeb’s imprisonment. However, I cannot allow myself to lament my husband’s loss as I have a family of nine to take care of. Since Adeeb has been away, I have to be both mother and father to my children. We shared the care over the children, this is now my sole responsibility. We miss him very much.
Batuh, the youngest daughter, has caught on the topic of the conversation, stops playing, and stresses the tension by softly, but firmly addressing her mother: “I want to go with you, to see ‘baba’!”
We have only been allowed one visit since Adeeb’s arrest. Batuh was there to see her father, but she was afraid of the pale and sad figure that her lively father had turned into. She did not even recognize Adeeb and refused to talk to him. Since this visit, no one from the family has been allowed to visit. We are all considered to be “security threats”. Generally, prisoners are entitled to two visits every month. We are not allowed to send him a letter or call him. Even his lawyer has only been allowed one visit. The little information we have on Adeeb, we gather through prisoners who have been released. Apparently, my husband was hospitalized for four days recently, but nobody told us!
The living conditions in Ofer prison are said to be extremely harsh. During his first days of detention, Adeeb was beaten severely by his guards. He had been drenched by the stinking chemical water that the army used during the demonstration. The prison administration would not provide fresh clothing, so fellow prisoners gave him another outfit. Four months after his arrest, I took three of our daughters to visit Adeeb in prison and bring clean clothing. We were not allowed to give him his trousers, supposedly because he had not demanded them on the prison’s official request form! Clearly, that is a lie.
Alaah, 17 years old, was particularly moved by the visit: “My father looked very sad and tired. I felt such desperation this day. We were so close, but kept apart by a glass barrier in the prison’s visiting area. I wanted to sit next to him and touch him.”
Together with ten other prisoners, my husband spends day and night in a prison cell of less than 15 square metres, which includes the bathroom. Sunlight is limited in this cramped cell. A tiny bathroom window and small openings in the ceiling are the only sources of daylight. Adeeb can only escape this cage and grasp a sense of the real world during a daily ten-minute walk outside.
Financially, it has been really difficult on us. Adeeb used to work as a taxi driver, so our family suffers from this loss of income. We still have a little shop, opened by two of my children, but it does not cover my family’s necessary expenses. Our two eldest daughters are in university, which is very expensive.
It has been even harder on an emotional level. Two months ago, Alaah, my daughter of 17, was very sick and was even hopsitalized twice. She could not walk or move, as if she was paralyzed. The doctors could not find anything wrong with her and decided it was psychosomatic…
Adeeb has had 15 court hearings so far. His case has been remanded until the end of legal proceedings, which may take up to a year or longer. Basically, we do not know when he will be back home.
Postscript: the family was allowed one visit on March 17, shortly after this interview.
Video of Bil’in July 10th 2009 demonstration shows Adeeb being hauled away by Israeli soldiers; he has been imprisoned without  trial ever since

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Palestinian organizer tortured in Israeli jail

Posted on ISM page: March 23, 2010 | ShareThis
Popular Struggle Coordination Committee
23 March 2010

Lacerations on the back of a Palestinian organizer who was 
tortured in Israeli jail before being released with no charges. Lacerations on the back of a Palestinian organizer who was tortured in Israeli jail before being released with no charges.
Omar Alaaeddin from the village of alMa’asara was nabbed from the Container Checkpoint on Sunday the 14th. He was released yesterday with no charges pressed against him. Alaaeddin reports having been tortured in the Israeli Russian Compound Jail in Jerusalem. Omar Alaaeddin, who is involved in organizing demonstrations in the village of alMa’asra south of Bethlehem, was arrested a week ago on Sunday at the Container Checkpoint, as he was making his way back home from Ramallah, with a group of students and university professors. The groups was in Ramallah to see a theater play. Alaaeddin was beaten repeatedly, both by the soldiers who detained him, and later, in the Israeli Russian Compound jail in Jerusalem. He reports to have been kicked, punched and even electroshocked with a taser by the soldiers and his jailers.

Lacerations on the back of a Palestinian organizer who was 
tortured in Israeli jail before being released with no charges.
Lacerations on the back of a Palestinian organizer who was tortured in Israeli jail before being released with no charges.
Omar one day after being released.
Omar one day after being released.
Palestinian Organizer Tortured in Israeli Jail.
Palestinian Organizer Tortured in Israeli Jail.

Omar's Shoulder.
Omar’s Shoulder.
Omar's side.
Omar’s side.
Omar's leg.
Omar’s leg.

Alaaeddin, who suffered an injury to his leg from the beating, was questioned over an unsubstantiated suspicions of participating in demonstrations and assaulting the soldier who arrested him. Dozens of eyewitnesses who were at the checkpoint at the time of his arrest can attest to the fact that it was, in fact, Alaaeddin who was assaulted. He was finally brought in front of a judge for the first time last Sunday, which was also his first opportunity to see a lawyer and inform him of his torture. Following a short hearing, the judge harshly criticized the prosecution and police, saying there is no evidence connecting Alaaeddin to any violence and ordered his unconditioned release on bail. Despite having been injured and repeatedly having asked to see a physician, Alaaeddin did not receive any medical care throughout his detention.
This is the second time this month that an organizers from alMa’asara are detained and assaulted at the container checkpoint after Border Police officers recognized them from demonstrations. On March 2nd, the mayor of alMa’asara, Mahmoud Zwahre was detained and beaten on his way to a meeting in Ramallah.
Alaaeddin and his lawyers are now considering the option of filing both criminal and civil suites in an attempt to challenge the impunity and inaccountability of members of the Israeli armed forces.
Updated on March 24, 2010

My Father's Unjust Incarceration -- The Case of the Holy Land Five

March 23, 2010
A decade before my father received a 65-year prison sentence, he handed me an unusual book, one that ultimately shifted the way I perceive the world. It was titled Magic Eye, and it contained pages of what seemed like simple multicolored patterns. But each page had a hidden gift, a sensational truth. By diverging your eyes, my father told me, you’ll see an unexpected image. It seemed to challenge everything I’d ever known. I stared at the flat, distorted artwork until it transformed into a faded silhouette and then a three-dimensional shape like a group of dolphins or a rose-filled heart. Years later, as I flip through the pages of my family’s narrative, I see images that are far less whimsical, and indeed, painful.
Last week, U.S. attorney Jim Jacks filed a motion asking the federal judge of the Holy Land Foundation case to transfer my father—Ghassan Elashi, the charity’s co-founder—and his colleagues to a prison that closely monitors its inmates. If transferred to either of these so-called “Communication Management Units” in Terre Haute, Indiana or Marion, Illinois, my father’s phone calls would be more limited than they are now, in Seagoville, Texas. His letters would be monitored, his visitation time would be reduced to four hours a month and his conversations would be restricted to English, which is his second language.
Perhaps this may seem like an illustration of an effective justice system at work. But if one diverges his or her eyes, the camouflaged truth will slowly unfold, until it comes into focus. I, for one, see a hazel-eyed girl with pale skin and soft dark curls losing her home uponIsrael’s creation in 1948. The young woman, now my paternal grandmother, often tells me about her banishment from Jaffa, a once vibrant Palestinian city known for its orange groves and turquoise beach. I also see a man who was expelled from his native Gaza City in 1967 and was not allowed to return. I grew up hearing stories from this man, my father, about the plight of Palestinians, whom he called “a voiceless population” suffering from occupation, starvation, demolished homes, uprooted trees, constrained movement and a devastated economy.
As I look deeper, I see the Holy Land Foundation rise to stardom in the eyes of human rights activists worldwide who had witnessed this charitable organization alleviate poverty in Occupied Palestine through bags of rice, boxes of medicine, conventional humanitarian aid. I see my family scrutinized throughout the 1990s due to agenda-driven reports linking my father to terrorism—reports written by individuals who saw the HLF’s strength as a threat, for they wanted Palestinians to remain weak and desolate. I see President Bush shutting down the Holy Land Foundation three months after Sept. 11, 2001, calling the action “another important step in the financial fight against terror.”
I see my father and his colleagues tried in 2007 and almost vindicated. I see him tried a second time and convicted in 2008, thereby receiving a life-long sentence. In both trials, prosecutors argued that the HLF gave money to Palestinian zakat (charity) committees that they claimed were controlled by Hamas, which the U.S. designated a terrorist organization in 1995. To prove this, prosecutors called to the stand an Israeli intelligence agent testifying under the pseudonym of Avi who claimed he could “smell Hamas.” 

The prosecutors intimidated the jury by showing them scenes of suicide bombings completely unaffiliated with the HLF, and they used guilt by association by linking my father and the other defendants to relatives who are members of Hamas. The defense attorneys’ argument was simple: The Holy Land Five gave charity to the same zakat committees to which the American government agency USAID (United States Agency for International Development) gave money. Furthermore, none of the zakat committees included in the HLF indictment were named on any of the U.S. Treasury Department’s lists of designated terrorist organizations.
Nationally respected human rights law professors such as David Cole have associated the Holy Land case with McCarthyism, and other experts have called it a miscarriage of justice. The book that my father gave me had this subtitle: A New Way of Looking at the World. If one looks at our world with a fresh pair of eyes, he or she will see that Jim Jacks’ request for harsher prison conditions is unnecessarily cruel, and that supporting the appeal process is the only way to achieve justice. He or she will also see that the Holy Land Five are political prisoners, and that we live in a twisted time, a time when humanitarians are pursued relentlessly for political purposes.

Noor Elashi is a Palestinian-American and writer based in New York City. 

PA minister: Releasing prisoners key to peace

Ramallah – Ma'an – Minister of Detainees and Ex-Detainees Affairs Issa Qaraqe said Sunday that a basic requirement for any serious peace process would be the release of Palestinian prisoners from Israeli jails.

This is the criterion to judge whether Palestinian society is free from the Israeli occupation, the Ramallah-based official insisted at the home of prisoner Nael Barghouthi, marking his 33rd year in Israeli custody.

Head of the Palestinian Prisoner's Society Qaddura Faris attended the news conference in the village of Kubar, northwest of Ramallah, along with Barghouthi's brother Omar and ex-detainee Ahmad Abu As-Sukkar.

Qaraqe described the detention of a large number of Palestinian prisoners in Israeli jails for more than 20 years as disdaining the international community, which has failed to impose international law and to reach a just peace in the region.

"They allow Israel to behave as a state above human law," Qaraqe said.

For his part, Faris applauded Barghouthi for his prominent role as a Palestinian freedom fighter.

He also greeted prisoners' relatives and applauded their decision to boycott prison visits in April in protest of humiliating treatment at the detention facilities.

Monday, April 5, 2010

Egypt detains 3 from Gaza in Al-Arish

Al-Arish – Ma'an – Egyptian state detectives on Monday detained three Palestinians from the Gaza Strip alleged to be illegally staying in Al-Arish after entering Egypt through Gaza's underground tunnel complex.

Egyptian security sources told Ma'an that state detectives received information that three Palestinian men were staying in a chalet on the beach near the city to attend spring festivals. Security forces stormed the chalet and detained the Palestinians, sources added.

The sources further said that following interrogation, the detainees could be sentenced to one year probation and a fine of 1,000 Egyptian pounds if it is discovered that it was their first time illegally entering Egypt.

Prisoners still detained after completing sentences

Gaza – Ma'an – Israel has refused to release two Palestinian prisoners even though they completed their sentences, the Popular Movement for the Support of Prisoners and Palestinian Rights reported Friday.

Popular Movement coordinator Nash'at Al-Waheidi said in a statement that the Israel Prison Service had informed Raed Abu Mugheseib that he would be released after he served six and a half years in jail.

However, the administration of Israel's Ketziot military prison transferred the detainee to the nearby Beer Sheva prison to be held under Israel's 2002 Imprisonment of Illegal Combatants Law.

Al-Waheidi added that Israeli authorities refused to release Munir Abu Diba' after he completed his 11-year sentence in March. He pointed out that an Israeli military court had ruled that Abu Diba' would be deported because he did not have a Palestinian ID. The Palestinian Authority's Ministry of Detainees and Ex-detainees Affairs appealed the decision, considering both the detention and deportation illegal.

Al-Waheidi called on international organizations and human right groups to put pressure on Israel to release prisoners who had completed their sentences, yet remain detained under the Illegal Combatants law.

The law allows the chief of staff of the Israeli military to detain anyone if there is a basis to assume that he or she "takes part in hostile activity against Israel, directly or indirectly" or "belongs to a force engaged in hostile activity against the State of Israel," according to Human Rights Watch. Detainees can be held for up to 14 days without access to a lawyer and have limited choice of counsel.

All detainees held under the law are automatically assumed to be a security threat and can be held without charge or trial as long as hostilities against Israel continue. A detainee may appeal his or her continued detention to Israel's High Court of Justice. But, based on similar appeals lodged in the cases of administrative detainees, the court hardly ever queries a military decision to detain an individual.

Police say Gaza man detained in Israel

Bethlehem – Ma'an – Israeli Border Guards detained a Palestinian man from the Gaza Strip on Sunday, after pursuing him through the streets of the central Israeli city of Rishon Lezion, police said.

During the chase, police claimed, the suspect attacked an officer, causing bruising. As a result, backup forces were called to the scene, and fired warning shots in the air before detaining the man, reportedly working illegally in Israel.

An Israeli police spokesman did not immediately return calls seeking comment.

Human rights group issues report on Palestinian prisoners' reality in Israeli jails

DSC_08571Vienna, April 5, 2010 (Pal Telegraph)- Friends of Humanity International issued on Saturday "Behind the Sun"-- a detailed report describing the Palestinian prisoners’ reality in Israeli jails during 2009, confirming that 2009 was exceptionally one of the worst years: Israeli prison administration practiced new methods against them, to increase both the psychological and physical pressure  on them and continue locking them up in an exceedingly difficult environment, with the aim of rendering them soulless bodies, to guarantee they cannot live afterward. The Israeli Prison Service (IPS) also sought to destroy the Palestinian prisoner’s psyche, affecting his family as well, through oppressive policies such as preventing families from visiting their jailed relatives for very long periods of time.
The human rights group said that the Palestinian prisoners are still setting rare examples throughout humanity history, in terms of patience and endurance; where under tragic circumstances, tens of thousands of the Palestinian prisoners were forced to undergo months under torture and whips of occupation executioners in the dungeons of investigation, that they have long suffered years of oppression at the hands of prison guards and Shabas. The prisoner‘s ability to withstand these conditions and survive is a great meaning in the course of defending the right to life.
The organization pointed out that the number of prisoners in Israeli occupation jails has reached 7286 male and female prisoners over the past year, of whom 36 are females, as well as 20 ministers and deputies, in addition to 250 children under the age of 18, whose detention has been accordingly prohibited by laws. Occupation authorities also arrested 319 prisoners since before the Oslo peace accords signed by the Palestinian and Israeli sides in 1993, known as long-term prisoners (old prisoners), 115 of whom have now been held for more than twenty years, including three prisoners now being held for more than thirty years: Nael Al-Barghouthi, Fakhry Al-Barghouthi and Akram Mansour.
Because Israeli occupation authorities refuse to release them in prisoner exchange deals with the Palestinians, the focus of this report is on the Palestinian prisoners, originally from Jerusalem and areas beyond the Green Line, who have continued to be marginalized by Israeli occupation authorities. Last year’s statistics showed that the number of both sexes Jerusalemite prisoners was 273. The Palestinian captive Fuad Al-Razim from Silwan neighborhood in the occupied Jerusalem is considered the dean of Jerusalemite prisoners, arrested 29 years ago. The number of Jerusalemites who died in Israeli prisons was 14, the first of whom was Qasim Abdullah Abu Aker, died in 1969 as a result of torture during interrogation in the prison "Al Maskoubiya". The last one was captive Joma’a Keyalah, who died nearly a year ago, after having spent 13 years in Al Ramlah prison hospital.
According to the organization, there are 31 Jerusalemite prisoners; some of them sets of brothers, inside Israeli jails who are still suffering bitter conditions. Among those prisoners are 3 brothers--Mousa, Khalil and Ibrahim Sarahneh who have been sentenced to life imprisonment since 2002. Regarding solitary confinement prisoners, there are two of them, both from Jerusalem: Abed Al-Naser Al-Hulaissi who has been isolated for more than 13 years, and Mo‘taz Hijazi, isolated for nine years. There is also Jerusalemite deputy-prisoner Mohammed Abu Teir, who spent more than 25 years in Israeli jails.
According to the human rights organization “Friends of Humanity”, there are four Jerusalemite females prisoners in Israeli jails: Ibtisam Issawi, resident of Jabel Al-Mukaber and sentenced to 14 years; Amna Mona, the oldest female prisoner, resident of the Old City, and is sentenced to life imprisonment; Sana‘a Shehadeh, a resident of Qalandia refugee camp, also sentenced to life imprisonment; and finally captive Nada Derbas, resident of Issawiya town and received a 4-year sentence.
Presenting the conditions of Jerusalem’s prisoners, the organization recalled the sixty-year-and-a-half-year-old Ali Hassan Abed Rabu Shallaldah, the eldest among prisoners from the occupied Jerusalem, held prisoner for 19 years and is currently serving a sentence of 25 years. He has 12 children, 8 of whom got married while he was languishing in captivity.
The organization stated that Wael Mahmoud Qassem, from Silwan town in the occupied east Jerusalem, received the longest ever sentence of a total of 35 life sentences in prison in addition to 50 years. He is married with four children. Brothers Ramadan and Fahmi Mashahreh have been sentenced to 20 life sentences. Israeli occupation forces also demolished their homes. The organization also named the two Jerusalemite prisoners Dr. Abed Al-aziz Amro and Alaa Al-Din Al-Bazian, both sentenced to life imprisonment.
For the Palestinian female prisoners, the human rights organization asserted that 36 Palestinian women are in Israeli jails toiling in harsh conditions, 27 of whom from the West Bank, 4 from Jerusalem, 4 from Palestinian areas inside the Green Line, and only one from the Gaza Strip. Also, there are five mothers along with sons in detention, with sentences ranging from 13 to 3 life sentences and thirty years. Their names are: Irena Poly Sarahneh, a mother of two daughters; Ibtisam Abdul Hafiz, with six sons; Qahera Said Al-Saadi, with four children; Iman Mohammed Gazzawi, a mother of two; and finally Latifa Mohammed Abu Thera’, who has seven children.
According to the organization, among the Palestinian prisoners, there are 250 delinquents in Israeli jails, aged less than 18 years old. These children are equally abused as their elders, and subjected to torture, unfair trials, inhuman treatment and violations of their fundamental rights.
The organization noted that Israeli occupation authorities discriminate against the prisoners from the Palestinian areas inside the Green Line. They consider them Israeli citizens; nevertheless, they do not treat them the same way they deal with Jewish prisoners, due to Israel’s prevailing racist policy. Furthermore, Israeli government refuses to include their names in any prisoner swap deals. There are 109 prisoners from both sexes in different Israeli jails; the 78-year-old Sami Younis who was arrested 27 years ago is considered the dean of all prisoners.
Considered as the most dangerous move, Israeli government formed a ministerial committee in March 2009, to intensify violations against the prisoners. It sought to study and appraise the situation of Palestinian prisoners, with the aim of choking them. Indeed, the committee has since adopted several decisions and unjust procedures, to crush them. There are more than 1000 prisoners in Israeli jails, suffering chronic diseases, and are subjected to medical negligence. There are also more than 1500 Palestinian prisoners and others from the West Bank who have been deprived of seeing their families for long times, including 775 prisoners from the Gaza Strip denied family visits since Israel imposed the siege on the Gaza Strip in 2006, under the pretext of maintaining security.
New Israeli violations were documented; such as using detainees as human shields during the recent assault on the Gaza Strip and forcibly keeping them in holes amid heavy firing. Israeli occupation forces also turned Palestinian-owned houses into military barracks while locking up the entire family in one room only.
Also, Gaza’s fishermen were a direct target for Israeli aggression. The number of Gazan fishermen who constantly were attacked by Israelis increased, as Israeli navy forces, almost every day, arrested them, confiscated their boats and tools, and humiliated and blackmailed them. Israeli occupation forces also arrested patients at Beit Hanoun crossing ‘Erez’ kept them for interrogation, and put pressure on them to collaborate with Israeli intelligence. The organization confirmed that all people arrested were subjected to torture and humiliation, and that inflicting all kinds of torture on the prisoners is an integral part of Israel’s policy against them.
In its report, “Friends of humanity” said that the prisoner is detained under administrative detention for many years without charging him, and it may extend longer than five years. Also, there are prisoners who were transferred to administrative detention after they had served long sentences. The prisoner Fathi al-Hayek, head of Zeta Jammai'n (Nablus) village, is the oldest administrative prisoner, imprisoned for more than four years. However, the organization noted that there was a significant decrease in the number of administrative detainees during the last year, where only 280 administrative detainees remained in detention.
The organization referred to the Fourth Geneva Convention, which clearly stipulates the illegality of the continuing isolation of the prisoner more than thirty days, regardless of the offense he made. However, this was not honored by occupation authorities. They held so many prisoners in long-term isolation instead. For example, prisoners Mahmoud Issa, Abdullah Barghouthi and Hassan Salameh have been isolated since 2002, Mo'taz Hijazi and Ahmed Al-Mughrabi isolated since 2004 and Jamal Abu Al-Hija isolated since 2005.
Unprecedently, Israeli occupation authorities have arrested since mid-2006 51 Palestinian MPs and ministers, and gave most of them harsh sentences. Later, many of them were released after having spent nearly four years in captivity, but the other remaining 20 are still in different prisons under very difficult conditions.
In 2009, Israeli prison authorities tried to impose the orange uniform instead of brown. Therefore, they clearly wanted to make resemblance between them and prisoners in American prisons at Guantanamo Bay. So if one saw the Palestinian prisoners in such clothes, it would come to his mind the intended similarity between the two groups. But the decision was rejected by the prisoners, despite all punishment and strangulation, and then prison administration realized that it would not be able to implement the decision. So they had to postpone it.
“Friends of Humanity” said that 15 arrests were recorded last year, most of whom were from the Gaza Strip arrested during Israel’s war on Gaza. The majority of them faced unjust decisions mostly labeling them as ‘illegal fighters’. After they had served their sentences, they, however, were not released and continued to live under miserable conditions. Undoubtedly, this is a flagrant violation of human rights and standards of just trial as well, where the Palestinian prisoner is unable to defend himself, and is detained indefinitely without a specific charge. 
By: Fuad Al Khoffash (Researcher) and Ghassan Obaid (Human Rights Activist)
Translated by: Mohammed S. El-Nadi
Photo by: Pam Bailey

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Hamas MP meets Red Cross representative over prisoners

[ 01/04/2010 - 09:30 AM ]

BETHLEHEM, (PIC)-- Hamas MP in Bethlehem Khaled Tafesh on Wednesday discussed with the Red Cross representative in the city the conditions of Palestinian prisoners in Israeli occupation jails.
The lawmaker said that a number of those prisoners suffer serious health problems and are in need of special care on the part of the Red Cross.
He also raised the issue of depriving prisoners of family visits for alleged "security reasons", and the suffering of prisoners during transportation from jails to courts and vice versa.
Another MP Marwan Abu Ras concluded a visit to Mauritania where he met with many lawmakers, partisan leaders and took part in many activities and met with religious scholars and the press.

Hamas prisoner exiled to Syria

Bethlehem – Ma'an – The founder of Hamas' Al-Qassam Brigades in the West Bank arrived in Damascus on Tuesday, following an agreement with Israeli officials last week to release him on the condition he be exiled.

Saleh Al-Aruri was freed from Israeli prison and forced into exile along with his wife and mother, according to Al-Qassam's Web site.

Jordanian officials refused to accept Al-Aruri two weeks ago, and the three were forced back into the West Bank until they received permission to travel to the Syrian capital, the site reported.

Al-Aruri spent 18 years in prison on charges of organizing resistance to the occupation of the West Bank.

Israel implementing Shalit deal?

Al-Aruri's name is among those detainees which Hamas demanded in exchange for a captured Israeli soldier, raising questions that Israel and Hamas had confidentially implemented the a deal.

Issa Qaraqe, the West Bank-based prisoners minister, told Ma'an that accepting the exile decision was unacceptable, if confirmed. "How can a prisoner exile himself?" he said, insisting that Fatah has refused a number of times the prospect of releasing someone to exile.

Qaraqe said that "approving the exile opens wide the door to implementing the occupation's policy of renewing their offers for the prisoners." These offers are nationally unacceptable, Qaraqe added, especially if the person is forced to exile himself.

Omar Abdul Razzaq, head of the Change and Reform bloc, said the decision was personal and not Hamas' official stance. He dismissed reports that the exile "has anything to do with the Shalit deal."

Hamdan: The release of prisoner Aroori is not part of any swap deal
[ 01/04/2010 - 08:45 AM ]

GAZA, (PIC)-- Hamas representative in Lebanon Osama Hamdan categorically denied that the release of prisoner Saleh Al-Aroori and his travel to Damascus was part of the swap deal, affirming that the deal is still stalled because of Israel’s intransigent attitude.
“I should make it clear that there is nothing new regarding the prisoner swap deal which was hampered by the [Israeli] occupation, so there is no progress in the deal,” Hamdan said in a press statement published on Wednesday by Quds Press.
The Hamas official accused the Palestinian Authority (PA) in Ramallah of working on aborting the swap deal.
“I believe that some parties [in the PA] were concerned about the prospects for the success of the deal and did not want it to succeed; they also demanded not to release specific names,” he underlined.
Director of Ahrar center for prisoners’ studies Fouad Al-Khafsh also denied news reports claiming that prisoner Aroori was released in the context of a swap deal between Israel and Hamas.
In a press release, Khafsh stated that Aroori was released after he lodged many appeals with the Israeli military court against his administrative detention without leveling any charge against him.
He added that every time, the Israeli military court turned down his appeals and told him that he could be released from prison if he accepted to be exiled outside occupied Palestine, the thing which was rejected by Aroori, but lately his lawyer reached a formula for his release, that were accepted by both parties, stipulating that he would be allowed to return to his family and home for a while before allowing him to travel abroad in order to complete his higher studies.
In another context, the director of Ahrar center urged Palestinian officials in charge of the prisoner swap deal to warn Israel that every month its soldier Gilad Shalit spends in captivity would prompt his captors to change and increase their demands for his release.

Ghoul: Jerusalem captives in any prisoners swap deal

[ 31/03/2010 - 06:38 PM ]

GAZA, (PIC)-- Minister of prisoners and justice in Gaza Mohammed Al-Ghoul has affirmed that any prisoners exchange deal with the Israeli occupation authority (IOA) must include Jerusalem and 1948 occupied Palestine captives.
He told a rally held on Wednesday in solidarity with the prisoners of Jerusalem and the 1948 occupied lands that the IOA would eventually acquiesce to the resistance's demands.
The minister said that prisoners of the 1948 occupied lands are "freedom fighters" and fight occupation of their land with bare chests.

IOA imposed house arrest on journalist for exposing crimes

[ 31/03/2010 - 05:52 PM ]

OCCUPIED JERUSALEM, (PIC)-- The Israeli occupation authority (IOA) has been imposing house arrest on the Israeli journalist Anat Kam for three months for leaking secret information regarding the IOA deliberate killing of two Jihad activists in Jenin district.
The British Independent newspaper published on Tuesday said that Kam, who used to work for Walla news agency, had leaked secret documents during her service in the army that detailed the assassination crime and the legal violations involved.
The report said that the charges leveled against Kam, 23, would entail prolonged incarceration if she is indicted for photocopying secret documents while in service.
It said that two of the Islamic Jihad movement cadres were killed in Kufr Dan village, west of Jenin, in June 2007 while they could have been arrested alive.

Hamas: Palestinian prisoners to stage a general strike in April

[ 31/03/2010 - 05:08 PM ]

OCCUPIED JERUSALEM, (PIC)-- The higher committee of Hamas prisoners in Israeli jails on Wednesday declared that the Palestinian prisoners of all political spectra will soon organize a general strike in protest at the ongoing Israeli violations of their rights.
In a statement issued in this regard, the committee said that this general strike, which was approved by all factions, is aimed to pressure Israeli jailers to stop their inhuman practices against Palestinian female and male prisoners in all prisons and detention centers.
The committee emphasized its full support for this strike which will take place in April, noting that this general strike will include a number of protest steps, where the prisoners will refuse to receive visits from their families and will stage a mass hunger strike during all visit days.
It added that these steps will also include special events on the Palestinian prisoner day which marks April 17.
In a related context, the prisoners of Hamas in Negev jail deplored the prison administration for removing the MBC channel from the list of channels allowed to be seen in prison because of its broadcast of a Turkish TV series called “A stone cry” which illustrates some aspects of the Palestinian people’s suffering under the Israeli occupation.
For his part, Fouad Al-Khafsh, the head of Ahrar center for prisoners' studies, said that the decision is part of the arbitrary policy pursued by the prison administration which aims to suppress the Palestinian prisoners.
He added that the Israeli prison authority decided to block the channel after it saw all Palestinian prisoners mesmerized in front of screens watching the Turkish series that almost ruined the Israel-Turkish relations.

Shrapnel still in body of Palestinian captive after 20 years of detention

[ 31/03/2010 - 09:11 AM ]

QALQILIA, (PIC)-- The family of Palestinian captive Iyad Abu Khaizaran from Tobas in the West Bank said that their son was suffering from shrapnel that still existed in his body almost 20 years after his detention.
They said in a message published by the prisoners' center for studies on Tuesday that Abu Khaizara was hit with 11 bullets in his hands and feet during an attack on Israeli soldiers in 1991.
The detainee underwent several surgeries to extract the resulting shrapnel from his body but some of them remained until the present day, the message went on.
The family appealed for an end to the suffering of their son, who is currently held in Hadarim jail.
Ra'fat Hamdona, the head of the center, said that the Israeli occupation forces demolished the home of Abu Khaizaran in 1992 and he was sentenced to life plus 25 years in jail. He noted that Abu Khaizaran had been held in solitary confinement for long periods.

Palestinian captive loses eyesight as prisoners agree on strike next month

Palestinian Information Center

March 30, 2010

RAMALLAH, (PIC)-- A Palestinian captive went blind in Israeli occupation jails due to the medical neglect of his case on the part of the Israeli prisons authority (IPA), a released prisoner told the Palestinian center for the defense of prisoners.

The center in a statement on Monday said that the captive was primarily diagnosed with spring conjunctivitis but the IPA did not offer him the proper treatment and refused to let a doctor check him, which led to deterioration of his condition few months later at the end of which he lost his eyesight.

It warned of the continued IPA deliberate medical neglect of Palestinian prisoners, describing it as "intentional slow death".

The center quoted chairperson of the Mandela institution catering for prisoners Buthaina Dukmak as saying that a number of prisoner patients held in Ramle prison hospital were anticipating death as they suffer critical conditions without any proper medical treatment.

She said that the Israeli occupation authority (IOA) was incarcerating more than 1,600 sick patients in its jails, adding that they are in dire need of check up by specialized doctors.

The center said that the IPA deliberate medical neglect was in violation of international norms and treaties specially the fourth Geneva convention that stipulated among other things a dignified captivity for prisoners.

It championed the formation of a regional and international pressure lobby to demand the release of prisoners especially the sick, children and women.

Meanwhile, the Palestinian prisoners of all factions agreed on refusing visits during the month of April and on three days of hunger strike, which they specified at 7-17-27 of April.

The prisoners said in a statement that the strike is to protest their bad imprisonment conditions, the IPA escalation against them and their relatives on all levels especially preventing family visits, which the Gaza prisoners were deprived of for the past four years.

They would also protest the humiliating searches and treatment of relatives when on their way for visits in the West Bank along with banning entry of books, depriving students from accessing Palestinian secondary exams, and barring Al-Jazeera TV network.

They said that a number of prisons would go on five days of hunger strike such as the Nafha internees to cope with their special demands.

Ra'fat Hamdona, the head of the prisoners' center for studies, urged local and international institutions to launch supportive programs of those prisoners' demands.

Egyptian forces detain 12 Gaza children

Al-Arish – Ma'an – Egyptian authorities detained 12 Palestinian children attempting to enter Egypt on Monday, through Gaza's subterranean tunnel complex.

Egyptian police said they seized the boys, aged between 10 and 17, after ambushing them to reveal the location of the tunnels in use. The boys told Egyptian forces that they were attempting to flee the dire economic situation in the Gaza Strip, police said.

Meanwhile, Egyptian forces raided a warehouse used to store goods for smuggling into Gaza in the Al-Barahma neighborhood near the Egyptian-Gaza border to the south.

CPT report corroborates family account of child arrest

Published Tuesday 30/03/2010 (updated) 31/03/2010 17:24
A photo of Suhad provided by her father [MaanImages]
Bethlehem - Ma'an - A report from Christian Peacemaker Teams in Hebron confirmed reports of the detention of a 13-year-old girl by Israeli forces last week.

At the time, an Israeli military spokesman said he had no knowledge of the incident, which was left uncorroborated until a CPT report was released on Thursday.

According to the report, "At about 5:45pm , CPTers followed four soldiers as they entered the girl’s home and ordered the entire family to the roof. Once on the roof, a fifth soldier from a permanent post on a neighboring Israeli settler home ordered the family’s three teenage daughters to one side of the roof.

"The soldier singled out the 13-year-old and accused her of throwing a stone. The girl’s mother protested saying that minutes before she had notified this soldier of settlers throwing stones at her as she hung her laundry and that he had seen settlers throwing stones. She was dumbfounded that the soldier’s response was to call another unit of soldiers to detain her daughter.

"Two more units of soldiers arrived at the house before escorting the girl out of her home. The girl’s aunt attempted to prevent the soldiers from taking the girl by linking arms with her and refusing to let go. After a five-minute stand off, soldiers stated that the aunt could accompany the girl and the group of eighteen soldiers escorted them both away to a military jeep. Israeli police arrived, arrested the girl and took her and her aunt to a police station for questioning and fingerprints."

Ma'an had identified the child as Suhad Al-Ewaiwi, whose father contacted the Palestinian Prisoners Society shortly after his daughter was taken from their home. Lawyer with the society, Muhammad Shahin, said he called Israeli police, who told him settlers accused the girl of throwing stones at them.

French FM calls for release of Palm Sunday detainees

Published Tuesday 30/03/2010 (updated) 31/03/2010 12:49
Bethlehem - Ma'an - A French Ministry of Foreign and European Affairs representative called for the release of Palm Sunday detainee Abbas Zaki and his compatriots detained by Israeli forces during a peaceful protest.

Speaking to reporters on Tuesday a representative said "Abbas Zaki, member of Fatah Central Committee, was arrested Sunday with a dozen other people during a peaceful march from the Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem to the Checkpoint of the 'Tomb of Rachel.'

"The march was organized by a Christian NGO, to protest against the restrictions of access to Jerusalem imposed on Palestinian Christians during the Palm Sunday.

"We call for the release of Abbas Zaki and people arrested during a peaceful demonstration in support of freedom of access to the Holy City for a major Christian religious holiday."

Christians denied entry into Jerusalem because of a West Bank closure on the occasion of Jewish Passover demonstrated Sunday against Israel's infringement on their freedom of worship. Peaceful protesters crossed the separation wall when a steel door in the barrier opened to let military vehicles into the West Bank. More than a dozen were detained and remain in Israeli custody.

Prisoner families to suspend visits for 1 month

Nablus – Ma'an – A committee representing relatives of Palestinian prisoners in Israeli custody announced Monday that family visits would be suspended for one month in protest of Israeli policies.

The committee said the strike would start on 1 April and end on 1 May in protest of "Israeli arrogance" toward families visiting their relatives in prison. They also highlighted that several families were deprived of visits, predominantly those of prisoners from the Gaza Strip.

In a statement, the committee explained that the strike came in protest of Israel's confiscation of permits from certain families when they passed through checkpoints in addition to strip searches during prison visits.

Meanwhile, Palestinian prisoners in Israeli jails say they will go on hunger strikes on 7, 17, and 27 April.

ECHO program helps rehabilitate former child prisoners

Published Tuesday 30/03/2010 (updated) 30/03/2010 22:42
Bethlehem - Ma'an - Since its launch almost one year ago, an EU commission child rehabilitation program has offered its intervention services to almost 500 ex-detainee children under the age of 18, and 291 parents.

Save the Children Sweden with funding from the European Commission's Humanitarian Aid department (ECHO) and in partnership with YMCA have held an event at the premises of the Palestinian Red Crescent Society in Ramallah marking the completion of phase I of the Post-trauma Rehabilitation of Palestinian Ex-detainee Children program, a statement read.

The program was launched almost one year ago in eleven districts of the West Bank; the second phase is due to commence in early April 2010.

"It's been quite a full year for the Post-trauma Rehabilitation Program!" said Eyad Al-Araj, country director of Save the Children Sweden.

"We at Save the Children believe in a world that is free of violence against children, where children have hope and opportunity, and we are working to achieve this vision for Palestinian child ex-detainees through this program," he added.

Herve Caiveau, head of ECHO office in Jerusalem said: "The project aims at rehabilitating and re-integrating young child ex-detainees into their families and their society through individual and group counselling as well as career guidance. Additionally, project activities are directed towards mitigating stigmatisation and marginalisation of this target group."

The program provides individual and group counseling sessions to ex-detainee children and their families. Beneficiaries of the programme also obtain vocational and academic guiding sessions, and are engaged in structured ventilation activities, where they get to interact with each other and release some of the stress and anxiety caused by their detention experience in a stimulating and safe environment.

The event also featured the launch of a short documentary entitled Coming Home, produced as part of the program to shed light on the challenges facing Palestinian ex-detainee children after their release from prison and to introduce the intervention tools available through the Post-trauma Rehabilitation Program. The event was preceded by a photo exhibition encompassing a selection of 25 photos captured by ex-detainee children and young adults. The photos reflect the impressions, feelings, and thoughts of the ex-detainees in relation to their post-release reality.

Ukrainian detainee denies deportation reports

Gaza – Ma'an – Irena Sarahna, a Ukrainian detainee in Israeli custody, on Thursday told lawyer Taghrid Jahshan that the Israel Prison Service had not informed her of any decision to deport her, countering news reports that her deportation was imminent.

Jahshan, a lawyer for the Women's Organization for Political Prisoners, visited Sarahna at the Hasharon prison on Thursday.

"The deportation news reports are completely baseless and false. I haven't received any official notice by the Israel Prison Service that I will be deported to the Ukraine," Jahshan quoted her client as saying, countering recent remarks by a Palestinian official.

On Wednesday, Prisoners Affairs Minister Issa Qaraqe described the supposed Israeli decision to deport Sarahna as "dangerous and tyrannical," and a violation of human rights and international law.

Sarahna appealed to all media outlets to double-check such claims before publishing news reports about her case, explaining that the recent news about her deportation has had a negative influence on her and her husband.

Irena Sarahna was born in the Ukraine and is married Ibrahim Sarahna from the Duheisha refugee camp in Bethlehem. Her husband is serving a concurrent sentence of six life terms plus 45 years.

The couple was detained in Bat Yam, near Tel Aviv, and charged with transporting a Palestinian who detonated a bomb strapped to his chest in Rishon Letzion in 2002. The explosion killed two Israelis and injured 50.

The Israeli intelligence service Shabak, known as the Shin Bet, claimed both suspects admitted that they transferred Issa Bdair from the West Bank city of Beit Jala, as well as another Palestinian girl from Beit Sahour, who intended to undertake another operation.

Irena was initially sentenced to three years and was given the option of either being deported back to the Ukraine or serving a jail sentence. Her lawyers appealed but lost the case and her sentence was extended to 20 years.

The couple has two daughters, seven-year-old Ghazala, who lives with her grandparents in Duheisha, and nine-year-old Jasmin, who lives in Russia with her maternal grandmother.